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“Gender Equality in Antigua and Barbuda” – Call for Papers

The University of the West Indies Open Campus Antigua and Barbuda
The Antigua and Barbuda Studies Association


Our 11th Annual Conference
Distinguished Lecture


The University of the West Indies Open Campus Antigua

August 11–12, 2016
Greetings All! Welcome to the call for papers for the 11th in the series of annual conferences on Antigua and Barbuda that have been jointly organized by the University of the West Indies Open Campus Antigua and Barbuda (UWI) and the Antigua and Barbuda Studies Association (ABSA). Many of the papers from last year’s historic 10th Anniversary conference will be published in this year’s issue of The Antigua and Barbuda Review of Books. For 2016, the theme of our conference will be “Gender Equality in Antigua and Barbuda”. Our keynote speaker will be Professor Natasha Lightfoot, author of the recently published book, Troubling Freedom: Antigua and the Aftermath of British Emancipation. It is our hope that you will be interested in presenting a paper at this important conference.

The changing relations between men and women in Antigua and Barbuda have been for some time now an intensely debated social issue. It is the theme of this year’s conference as a result of overwhelming demand. No other suggested topic came close. Clearly the time to take up this issue in the context of this particular forum has come.

Like many of the other societies of our region and across the globe, Antigua and Barbuda has been going through major changes in gender relations. These changes have been both structural and cultural in nature. That is, they are taking place at the levels of organizations and institutions as well as in the areas of identity construction and the narratives that legitimate our changing male and female identities. These significant changes in gender relations have been driven by the power of four historically reinforcing social movements aimed at changing or reforming the dominant capitalist social order. The first was the Pan African Movement of the early decades of the 20th century, which re-ignited the struggle against colonialism and anti-black racism in Antigua and Barbuda. The second was the international Workers Movement of the 1930s, which gave rise to the trade union movement in Antigua and Barbuda. Third, were the nationalist and civil rights movements across the Caribbean, Africa and Black America, which brought political independence to Antigua and Barbuda.

The fourth social movement contributing to current changes in gender relations in Antigua and Barbuda is the international Women’s Movement. This movement and its issues of gender equality were present but definitely submerged in the three previous social movements. Consequently, all four can be seen as a continuing chorus of different voices calling for change in the European-dominated social order of the early 20th century. The revolutionary and activist practices of the first three movements together with their failure to address the issues of gender equality within their own ranks and in the larger society set the stage for the rise of a global Women’s Movement, which has had very strong responses of support from the women of Antigua and Barbuda.

Gender inequality in Antigua and Barbuda has a long history, as long as the history of our country. It has African foundations, which established men as political leaders and dominant figures, at the same time that women were restricted primarily to the domestic sphere with only limited roles outside of the home in agriculture, marketing and the public life of lineage groups.

On these African foundations were imposed the gender relations of the period of colonization and slavery. As a result, these were centuries of colonial de-gendering – the masculinization of African women and the feminization of African men. The subjectivities of both were radically dehumanized – niggerized – as their labor was brutally exploited to generate profits for the sugar plantations. Added to this already extreme level of oppression was the sexual exploitation of Afro-Antiguan and Barbudan women.

In the post-slavery period, colonial policies of re-gendering according to European patriarchal norms were introduced. This was the era in which the Christian nuclear family was more systematically imposed the structures of the African family that survived the previous period of de-gendering and family disruption. Along with these new policies came the classes in home economics for teaching Afro-Antiguan and Barbudan women how to be good Victorian wives. Outside of the home, much later the fields of teaching and nursing opened as areas of employment for women along with dressmaking, which was done largely in the home. These post-slavery initiatives reached only a tiny percentage of the population. Thus the majority of men and women occupied creole or bicultural constructions of family life that left Afro-Antiguan and Barbudan women without the specific female protections that were enshrined in either the African or European kinship system.

This was the particularly disadvantaged position in which the failure of the post-slavery family reforms left Afro-Antiguan and Barbudan women. They were without the protections of African kinship institutions such as the lineage group and bride wealth, and without those that went with the legal status of a European wife. If we add to these the limited opportunities for employment issues such as spousal abuse, we can easily understand why Antiguan and Barbudan women have responded so positively to the feminist appeals and promises of the Women’s Movement.

The primary purpose of our conference is to assess where we are today with this project of gender equality in the postcolonial period. What have been the new policies adopted by the V.C. Bird, the Lester Bird, Baldwin Spencer and now Gaston Browne Administrations to address the status of women and improve family life for the majority of the population? We can point to obvious areas such as primary, secondary and tertiary education as well as the opening of many new areas of employment for Antiguan and Barbudan women. At the same time, we want to know what are the remaining areas of social life in which Antiguan and Barbudan women still experience gender discrimination. What of pay differentials? What of access to the arena of politics? What of spousal abuse? What of gendered occupations?

In 1997, in her keynote address to the recently opened Centre for Gender and Development at the University of the West Indies (Mona), Johnetta Cole told her audience: “It is we women who are the major participants in the churches, the backbones they call us, frying the chicken, making the roti, but it is the brothers who are almost always the heads, the leaders. It is we women who take the notes at the meetings, organize the buses for the rallies, go door-to-door to get the votes, but the it is always the brothers who are the Prime Ministers”. Is this where we still are today? And if so, what are we doing about it?

To address questions like these we suggest the following themes as guides in deciding the exact topic on which you will present:
Women and the structure of the Contemporary Antiguan and Barbudan Family

Gender policies of postcolonial administrations from Bird to Browne

Gender discrimination in Antigua and Barbuda

Gender and Sexuality in Antigua and Barbuda

Race and Gender in Antigua and Barbuda

Antiguan and Barbudan Women in Party Politics

Women and Education in Antigua and Barbuda

Antiguan and Barbudan women in the media

Growing up female in Antigua and Barbuda

Women in Antiguan and Barbudan music

Women and the Arts in Antigua and Barbuda

Antiguan and Barbudan women in carnival

Women and economic development in Antigua and Barbuda

Recent books by Antiguan and Barbudan women

Women and Calypso in Antigua and Barbuda

If you are interested in presenting a paper at this 2016 conference, please send us a brief abstract that includes your title, your name, and a brief description of the theme of your paper. These abstracts must be received by May 15, 2016. They will enable us to put you on the right panel. Your abstract, in a word document, should be emailed to: paget_henry@brown.edu and to janetlofgren@gmail.com .

Paget Henry Ian Benn Janet Lofgren
President Head Editorial Assistant
ABSA UWI (Antigua) A&B Review of Books

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Call for Papers – Conference on Tim Hector, Caribbean Politics and Economic Development

Date: January 10-12, 2013
Venue: University of the West Indies Open Campus, Antigua and Barbuda
Organizers: University of the West Indies Open Campus Antigua and Barbuda, the Leonard Tim Hector Memorial Committee/ACLM, Antigua and Barbuda Studies Association, and Oilfield Workers Trade Union of Trinidad and Tobago

It is difficult to believe that 10 years have already passed since the death ACLM leader, Tim Hector. He was a major presence in the intellectual, political and journalistic, life of Antigua and Barbuda, and also of the wider Caribbean. It is to mark the tenth anniversary of his passing that the above organizations have come together to put on this conference. We extend an invitation to you to attend and participate.

From 1972 until his death in 1992, Tim Hector was a major figure of the Caribbean New Left Movement, and was also its leading proponent in the twin-island state of Antigua and Barbuda. Paradoxically, this regional New Left Movement emerged not long after the larger territories of Jamaica, Trinidad, Guyana, and Barbados gained their political independence from Britain, and the smaller states achieved sub-national statuses such as associated statehood or departmentalization. The movement for independence had its roots in the 1930s struggles of an older Left Movement. This movement sought to address the harsh impact of the Great Depression and the sharpening contradictions that it produced in the racialized political economies of the Caribbean. In Antigua and Barbuda, this anti-colonial and nationalist movement was a labor-based one that threw onto the historical stage, political leaders such as Reginald Stevens, Luther George, V.C. Bird, Douglas (Kem) Roberts, Novelle Richards, and others.

Around the region, leaders of similar caliber and outlook such as Norman Manley (Jamaica), Eric Williams (Trinidad), Grantley Adams (Barbados) helped usher in the postcolonial period.

The paradoxical rise of this New Left Movement of which Hector was a part marked the onset of neo-colonial cracks in the nationalist solutions of the leaders of the Old Left. The critiques and alternatives posed by the newer movement made it clear that through these cracks political corruption and old economic problems were bursting out along with the intensifying of racial and class contradictions. These were the broad features of the social context that gave birth to the Caribbean New Left and its break with the Old.

In Antigua and Barbuda, disappointment with the neo-colonial cracks that had opened in V.C. Bird’s postcolonial regime produced the formation of two black power groups. One group was led by Mali Olatunji and Robin Bascus while the other was led by Barry Stevens and Lestroy Merchant. The first was more culturally oriented and emphasized engagements with the African heritage of the culture of Antigua and Barbuda. The second group was more scholarly, and emphasized the writing and recovering of the history and thought of Antigua and Barbuda, and, more broadly, of people of African descent. They published a journal, Outlet. It was this latter group that Hector joined on his return to Antigua after studying in Canada.

At the time of his return, Hector had been deeply influenced by the political philosophy of CLR James and also by the Black Power Movement that had erupted in the United States and subsequently spread to Canada and the Caribbean. When he joined the Afro-Caribbean Movement (ACM) of Stevens and Merchant, the neo-Garveyite ideology of Black Power was very much its dominant discourse. After few years with the ACM, Hector assumed the leadership.

The impact of his leadership was clearly visible after 1973, as he took the organization in a Jamesian direction, and later renamed it the Antigua Caribbean Liberation Movement (ACLM). By the time of its emergence, the ACLM was not an isolated occurrence on the regional scene. In Trinidad, there was NJAC and New Beginning; in Jamaica, Abeng; in Guyana, there was ASCRIA, and in Grenada, the New Jewel Movement, (NJM). These were some of the major organizations of the Caribbean New Left and their leaders were the new political figures that they throwing onto the regional historical stage.

The differences between Hector’s and Bird’s political philosophies were quite indicative of the differences between the Old and New Left Movements across the region. In other words, Hector was very representative of this generation of New Left leaders. In the case of V.C. Bird, the course of his political philosophy was one that began with a strong black democratic socialism and a firm commitment to nationalizing the major industries of the Antiguan and Barbudan economy. However, succumbing to both internal and external pressures, Bird’s democratic socialist philosophy slowly evolved into a black laborism, which was marked by Bird’s commitment to empowering the laboring masses in Antigua and Barbuda through an order of state capitalism that relied primarily on the foreign investor.

In contrast to Bird, the course of Hector’s political philosophy was one that began as a synthesis of Black Power ideas on race and CLR James’ insurrectionary socialism, particularly the political economy of the text, Facing Reality. In response to primarily local pressures, this initial position shifted to a new synthesis of Black Power ideas on race and the socialist philosophy for workers in Trinidad and Tobago that James developed in the text, Party Politics in the West Indies. Consequently, these two works are particularly important for understanding the socialism of Hector and the ACLM.

Some of the crucial policy differences that followed from these different Old Left/ New Left philosophical positions can be seen in their proposed models of economic development. In contrast to Bird’s tourist-driven state capitalism, Hector and the ACLM advocated a new socialist model of development in which workers would be in power both in the state and the economy. In this model, locally owned agricultural cooperatives would be the basic units of production and the enterprises driving agro-industrial development. Along with this shift away from foreign capital as the prime engine of development, Hector and the ACLM were also strong advocates for a system of popular or participatory democracy that was distinct from the existing system of representative democracy. In short, the different political philosophies of Bird and Hector, led to two different visions of the political economy of Antigua and Barbuda, and by extension the Caribbean region as a whole.

As noted earlier, Hector and the ACLM was not an isolated political formation on the Caribbean landscape. Rather in Abeng, NJAC, ASCRIA, Yulimo, New Beginning and the New Jewel Movement similar insurrectionary socialist alternatives to postcolonial state capitalist orders were being proposed. These organizations were the homes of Hector’s political colleagues and counterparts: Trevor Munroe, Geddes Granger, Eusi Kwayana, Ralph Gonsalves, Maurice Bishop, George Odlum and others. So as we reflect on Hectors successes, achievements, contributions, limitations and failures, we must also make comparative references to his political generation and the overall impact of the legacy of their new Left Movement.

Thus in thinking about topics of papers for presentation, we, the organizers of the conference, would like to make the following suggestions: similarities and differences between Hector and his generation on the one hand, and Bird and his generation on the other; comparisons between Hector and one figure of the Old Left or between Hector and one of the leaders of his New Left generation. Papers could also focus on the internal development of Hector’s political philosophy and its impact on his praxis. Further, they could focus on the nature of his journalism, or they could focus on the party years of the ACLM, their campaigns, experiences at the polls, or specific policy positions in areas such as education, participatory democracy, gender, economic development, black liberation or working class liberation.

As our final set of possibilities for paper topics, we also suggest papers that focus on the New Left of the future with Hector and his generation as the Old Left. How would they look from its perspective? What would be the significance of the re-introduction of the market in the economies of China, Vietnam, and most recently Cuba for a New Left of the future and also for the socialism of Hector and his generation? What is the significance of the rise of female political leaders in the Caribbean for a New Left of the future? To what extent can the Great recession of 2008 be the basis for a New Left Movement of the future? These are some of the topics that we encourage you to think about as you write the papers that you intent to present.

Before we let you go, we want to emphasize here our aim to produce an edited volume out of the revised papers from this conference. It is the only adequate way in which to really mark the 10th anniversary of the passing of Tim Hector, this major intellectual and political figure of the Caribbean New Left Movement of the 20th century.

Finally, the submission of abstracts of individual papers and panels are due by November 1st, 2012. They should be emailed to Paget_Henry@Brown.edu and copied to ian.benn@open.uwi.edu. Abstracts should state clearly and succinctly the problem(s) that will be addressed and include the title, the name of the presenter, and a short bio by which we can introduce you at the conference.

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